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The relevance of ERP in Modern-day Business
Rebecca Kaufmann-Beer, Head of ERP Product Management, Takeda
ERP is not a new technology—it has been around for a long time. If we look back 20 to 25 years, companies depended largely on many mainframe technology systems. Since then, we have gone through a wave of transformation where the implementation of global ERP emerged as the answer to many business problems. These transformations brought every department of an organization together, each executing all the transactional processes through an integrated ERP.
The emergence of global ERP - along with the growth of e-business, led to the point where companies were requiring open business channels with the outside world. It was much more than ensuring business processes and data were operating efficiently within the company. Instead, it became crucial for companies to partner with other firms within their network.
This led to the evolution of SAP ERP. With the rise of the integration platforms, SAP became a much more open and accessible technology tool- in stark contrast to what it was just ten years ago. It changed how companies needed to operate. With the onset of the digital age, e-business then transformed into digital businesses, where most companies opted to manage their business through digital channels/communications; it has changed the way the global market looks at ERP.
Adopting ERP in Enterprises
The digital world that we live in is continually changing with the emergence of new technologies. That said, the way we are responding to adapt to these innovative technologies is also evolving in a manner that benefits our business. This has primarily been possible due to the [historical] adoption of an ERP strategy. As such, to be leaders in the ERP space, companies need to have an agile and product-centric view of how they are enabling the capabilities for the business based; while leveraging their investments in their backbone ERP. With this historical investment and applying this new approach enables much shorter capability release cycles compared to the historical multi-year ERP transformations.
To be leaders in the ERP space, companies need to have a more agile and product-centric view of how they are enabling the capabilities for the business to evolve
At Takeda, we are going through a top-to-bottom transformation, coming from a project-based organization that supported large - multi-year programs - to now being a product-centric organization. We are delivering our ERP products to our user base in a much more agile and efficient way, speeding up delivery and time to value.
Importance of Technology in ERP space
One of the most important lessons that I have learned in the course of my career is the importance of understanding the big picture and the value of every business through the use of technology. There are challenges which a company may see from an IT perspective and consider it to be a common phenomenon. However, it is the responsibility of the company’s leadership to demonstrate how technology can enhance the business. Whether it is with the support of an internal IT organization or a partner consulting firm, the companies must have the technical expertise to provide answers and find solutions to mitigate the issues that were previously considered ‘normal’ by the organizations.
I have seen business leaders becoming much more technically savvy and aware, thanks to the growth of digitalization. Technology is a powerful enabler for business. It is no longer about creating efficiencies with pieces of paper. It is about bringing tools such as robotic process automation (RPA) and machine learning (ML) to augment business capabilities.
During my career, I have worked through all the different stages of ERP transformation, and the one common theme that is imperative is to have the right business stakeholders at the table and actively involved. Only such partnerships can put forward a strong business case for change.
Digitalization is Key
Digitalization is a critical component of modern-day business. We have seen investment in marketing, communications, and other technologies that are fundamental to companies—but those are the ‘shiny and new’ areas where most enterprises believe they can get immediate returns. However, it is also essential for companies to have a solid foundation in the system of records. Whether it is for analytics or consumer-facing applications, it all comes down to making sure that underneath all of the new, shiny, and the leading-edge digital technologies, companies have a robust and accurate system of record which invariably is a solid and stable ERP backbone.